Barnes named interim Qld Reds captain - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Barnes named interim Qld Reds captain

By Laine Clark 19/01/2009 09:02:07 PM Comments (0)

Usually Berrick Barnes finds himself with the unwanted tag of team "baby".

But the 22-year-old officially came of age at the Queensland Reds when he was named interim captain for the injured James Horwill (foot) on Monday.

Certainly Barnes has come a long way since leading the Kingaroy Red Ants under-11 rugby league side.

"I think that was the last time I captained a team," Barnes laughed after being unveiled as stand-in captain at the Reds' season launch at Brisbane.

"We got home against Cherbourg United in the final.

"I have never really been captain since then, maybe a couple of times at Ippy (Ipswich Grammar) - but I've always been the baby of the team."

Indeed it does seem like yesterday that a fresh-faced Barnes guarded the Wallabies team mascot, stuffed kangaroo toy Wally, with his life at the 2007 Rugby World Cup as the squad's youngest member.

However, Reds coach Phil Mooney had no hesitation throwing Barnes the reins of a squad boasting 12 new faces including All Blacks backrower Daniel Braid and ex-NRL player Mark McLinden.

"He leads from the front, by his actions. Where we are as a team that's the sort of leader that we need," Mooney said.

"It's only been a couple of years since he was the baby of every team that he has been in.

"Now that he has played 12 months of consistent Test football, his knowledge of the game is far greater than it was.

"He was the logical choice."

It was a red letter day for the Wallabies playmaker.

After officially being announced as fill-in Reds captain to his teammates, Barnes ran at training for the first time since seriously injuring his knee in the Wallabies spring tour.

He is confident of returning in the trial against Western Force at Ballymore on February 5.

Barnes will effectively skipper the Reds for half of the season with Horwill not expected back until March 21.

Horwill's absence further depletes a team now without former skippers John Roe, David Croft (both retired), Sam Cordingley (Grenoble) and Chris Latham (Worcester) and David Croft (retired).

Queensland - which finished 12th in the 2008 Super 14 - kicks off the season proper against the Bulls at Pretoria on February 14.

Barnes clearly relished the new challenge, firing up his team at the season launch.

"There is nothing to be afraid of going over there (South Africa) and playing," he said.

"It is an intimidating environment but the good thing is that we have no baggage from years gone by.

"We've got a bunch of young guys who want to aim up - they look forward to it."

Barnes said he would play inside centre for the Reds despite Deans using the former Brisbane Bronco at No.10.

But Mooney later added: "I will certainly take counsel from Robbie as to what he wants to see, but for us in the immediate situation he will play at inside centre - that's what is best for the Reds."

The Reds begin their pre-season against the NSW Waratahs at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, on Saturday night.

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